#Blogtober16 Day 1: Who are you?

I’m Jules, I’m in my early thirties (I can still just about say that!) and I live in Norwich with my lovely hubby and four month old daughter, Little M.

Up until having Little M I worked as a primary school teacher. It all got a bit stressful so a year ago I took the decision to leave my full time job as a senior teacher and started supply teaching.

It turned out to be the best decision I have ever made as, after discovering I was pregnant at the end of September 2015, it allowed me to manage my hours throughout my pregnancy to suit me. It’s been a bit of a change financially, but money isn’t everything!

It’s been a big change of lifestyle as I was really into teaching, especially the academic side. I don’t think a year went by when I wasn’t either studying for my MA, or doing a bit of action research. Not surprising that I found it all a bit too much, really!

My other interests are reading and travelling (as well as blogging, obviously!) but both of those have taken something of a back seat since Little M came along!

Oh, I also long to have a dog as I think a dog completes a family, but hubby’s having none of it at the moment and to be honest I don’t think I could cope with a dog as well as a baby, so I’m happy to wait for a couple of years before introducing a four legged friend to the mix!

I don’t really know what else to say about myself, really!! If you want to know anything, then pop me a question in the comments.


Blogtober 2016

So, I talked earlier in the week about how I hadn’t blogged for a while and felt I’d lost my blogging mojo. Well, I think I’ve found something to help me to get back into it!

The lovely Mandi at Hex Mum Plus One has devised a Blogtober blog challenge for October. I’m going to try my hardest to follow it so you’ll (hopefully!) see a few more posts from me than usual.

Here’s the challenge to give you a heads up as to what I’ll be writing about over the coming month:


Meet the Parents – Advice for New Mummies and Daddies from Belle du Brighton

Welcome back to my guest series on advice for new and expectant parents. This week we’re chatting with Lauren who blogs at Belle du Brighton.

Tell me a bit about you, your blog and your family.

We’re a family of 4, I’m Lauren and my husband is Sam. He’s 4 years younger than me and people always seem interested in that fact although we rarely even remember! We have two kids, Athena who was 3 in June and Arlo who is 1. I’ve been blogging for 6 years, way before babies and even getting married!

Belle du Brighton Lauren with her son, Arlo
What one essential item would you insist on putting in your hospital bag (for you)? 

Chocolate. That first long night of breastfeeding is hard, you need to keep your energy up! I went through two mega packs of Cadburys mini eggs last time! Oh, and a phone charger!
Oh yes, I remember being starving in the hospital. I worked my way through several packets of ginger biscuits!

Was there anything unexpected that happened during labour, that you think first-time mums should be prepared for? 

I didn’t labour as I had two planned C sections, but I think all first time mums should be told and then told again just to reiterate exactly how much blood they will lose after birth, and how little a maternity pad actually holds!

I didn’t have any blood loss for the first four weeks – the nurse was most disappointed as she seemed to delight in telling me it would gush out! Nice!

What would be your one essential product for a newborn that no new parent should live without?
A stretchy baby sling, hands free hugs!

I really need to try one of these – I’ve only borrowed structured carriers and Little M is not a fan. 

What’s the best piece of advice you were given before your first child was born?

Ignore all the advice people try and give you and trust your instincts!

What’s the worst piece of advice you were given?
“Don’t go to her every time she cries, she’ll learn to manipulate you!” Yes, because week old babies are so manipulative! I ignored this obviously.

My husband tried this line at about three weeks. Bless him I think it was coming from a well-meaning place but I shouted at him, he googled, then apologised!

What would be your top tip for a first time parent-to-be?

Trust your instincts. Also don’t let everyone swarm round you immediately after birth, if you don’t want visitors (friends OR family) let people know in advance, manage their expectations. Babies send people a bit mad it seems!

What’s the hardest thing about being a new parent?

Realising that your life from now on in will be very, very different.

What’s the best thing about being a new parent?
Realising that your life from now on in will be very, very different! All the things that you think you’ll miss you probably won’t, and your days will be spent watching this tiny person blossom and grow!

Thank you Lauren! Some lovely advice. You can find Lauren over on her blog, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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Another year older…

It’s my birthday today. I’ve used that as an excuse for that fact that I haven’t blogged today. But what’s my excuse for the past week?! I’ve lost my blogging mojo recently and I think it’s because I’ve generally been feeling a bit down. I’ve had a couple of topics I’ve wanted to blog about but I’ve felt afraid to write as I think I’d just sound like a big whingebag. And no one wants to read about that!

I’m feeling a bit more positive this week, though, so perhaps I can still write about those things with a slightly less negative slant. Predictably, one of the things I want to write about is to do with expressing. It was really getting me down this time last week but on Friday Little M turned four months old, another milestone on the long, winding, pumping road to being fully weaned!

Little M on grey and white chevron blanket with four months old today milestone card

The other is to do with feeling isolated when on maternity leaving/being a stay at home parent. I think this needs a bit more thought before I write but in short, I didn’t leave the house for pretty much a whole week, and it was depressing. I needed a big kick up the bum, I know, as it was something of a vicious cycle. Anyway, I won’t run on about it now.

As I said, today was my birthday and Little M and I had a lovely day together. We met a friend for brunch in one of my favourite cafes, which does decent gluten free food (always a winner) before heading to the local primary school for a Bounce and Rhyme session. I do love a sing song and it was lovely to see Little M enjoying it more than the last time we went (she was about seven weeks old at the time and slept all the way through!). I’ve tried to remember some of the songs so we can do them at home, too.

Then I went to M&S and spent a small fortune on food for a lovely dinner tonight. My mum and dad came over and hubby came home earlier than usual with some lovely flowers, so I’m feeling thoroughly spoilt. I promise to try to pick up the blogging a little more this week!

Meet the Parents – Advice for New Mummies and Daddies from Beauties and the Bibs

Welcome back to my guest post series on advice for new mums and dads, from those in the know. This week, we’re hearing from Jess, who blogs over at Beauties and the Bibs.

Tell me a bit about you, your blog and your family.

Hi, my name is Jess and I am a new mommy to a beautiful little girl called Ava. Before going on maternity leave I was a nursery manager at a nursery for children aged between 2-4 years. My partner Jordan is a great daddy to our little girl and to my surprise was so excited when we found out we were having a girl. He explained that he was really looking forward to having that father daughter relationship. We also have a crazy dog called Kya although she is still classed at a puppy at 18 months old. She has bundles of energy so loves nothing more than playing. She is Ava’s best friend and I just love to watch the bond they have.

I started my blog whilst on maternity leave as I found it a very lonely place. Blogging has opened me up to a whole load of new friends and has given me another purpose another other than being a mommy, not that I don’t like it. I write about the ups and downs of being a first time parent.

Jessica with her husband and baby

What one essential item would you insist on putting in your hospital bag (for you)?

I remember reading article after article about what to put in your hospital bag and it was so overwhelming. My friend however did tell me to pack some water wipes and I’m so glad she did. As I had a C-section moving around was really difficult but I was able to freshen up and feel more human after using them.

This is a great idea – I packed water wipes but didn’t even think about using them on myself!

Was there anything unexpected that happened during labour, that you think first-time mums should be prepared for?

I had this image that my labour was going to go perfectly. Sadly it didn’t and I had to have a C-section. I would love to let all perspective moms know that it’s not that scary and I recovered fine. You can read some horror stories about C-sections but don’t believe them all. I said to the nurse that I wanted to hold her as soon as she was delivered and they listened to this. So don’t be afraid to say what you want.

What would be your one essential product for a newborn that no new parent should live without?

Every new parent should have a muslin blanket to hand at all times. As you may know newborn babies can projectile vomit without notice. You will come to find that a muslin blanket will become your best friend. Ava loved to be swaddled when she was little and you can do this with them too! Plus they are dead cheap and can be picked up from most places.

I have an ever-growing selection of muslins. They are my favourite thing!

What’s the best /worst piece of advice you were given before your first child was born?

I wasn’t really given much advice when I was pregnant as people assumed I knew everything about looking after children, as I have worked in nurseries for many years. However once I had Ava so many people told me to make sure I slept when she did. This is just impossible as all I could think about was all the things I could do whilst she was asleep. Also Ava has never been one for sleeping very long during the day, so by the time I would be fall to sleep she would wake up.

What would be your top tip for a first time parent-to-be?

My piece of advice for all first time parents is to do things the way you want to do them not how others think you should be doing them. You can be so bombarded by other opinions it can be hard, but you’re the one that has to look after her/him everyday so you as a parent knows what best.

Yes! I find it really hard to ignore my mum, especially, when she’s telling me what Little M needs – invariably I realise that I was right, should trust my judgement and ignore her! I kick myself every time!

What’s the hardest thing about being a new parent?

The hardest thing I found about being a new parent was the constant worry about if I was doing it right. Am I feeding her enough, is she sleeping enough or am I doing enough activities with her. I have become to learn that as long as she is happy then I am doing it right.

Oh yes, I think this especially applies to feeding int he early days!

What’s the best thing about being a new parent?

The best thing I have found about being a new parent is being able to watch this beautiful little girl grow watching her meet all these new milestones it just amazing.

Thanks, Jess! You can find Jess over on her blog, Twitter and Facebook.

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Baby’s First Cold

Baby’s First Cold – there doesn’t seem to be a milestone card for that! Possibly because we want to forget that it ever happened? We all know how rubbish it is to have a cold as an adult, but goodness me, I never realised I could actually feel worse about another human being having one! I’m quite intolerant of the hub’s man flu histrionics when he has a cold.

It’s a whole different ball game when your baby has a cold, though.

Poor Little M. I think this is the most helpless I have felt since becoming a parent (maybe second only to when she lost weight and I couldn’t get her to latch in the week from hell). The poor thing has been so snuffly and struggling to settle. I’ve tried using a nasal aspirator (sounds amazing in theory; appears to be completely useless in practice) and saline spray but neither seem to have solved the problem.

I knew this was coming as Little M was snuffly last night and started sneezing constantly today, so I took a little trip to Boots for the nasal aspirator in a bid to nip it in the bud before it fully set in (I may have also made a slight detour to Next and spent a small fortune on baby clothes…whoops!). It’s a shame it wasn’t more successful. Maybe I’m doing it wrong.

I’m blaming the hot weather though, obviously. Our Gro-egg has been red for days and it’s just so sticky cuddling Little M to get her settled. The bedroom feels so stuffy, despite having a fan going and all of the windows open. The weather forecast promises that this hot spell is going to break tomorrow, and I can’t wait! It’s so much more stressful when it’s hot.

Hopefully Little M will have a better night tomorrow.

For now, does anyone have any top tips for how to alleviate congestion in a newborn? Any and all advice welcome!

Meet the Parents – Advice for new mummies and daddies from Arthurwears

Welcome back to Meet the Parents! This week we’re chatting to Sarah who blogs over at Arthurwears

Tell me a bit about you, your blog and your family.
Hi, I’m Sarah – Early Years Teacher, wife to Mr H and Mummy of Arthur (Yes, despite what some may think, Arthurwears is actually written by a female!) I probably should have thought my blog name through a bit more, but when I started blogging, it really was just for the benefit of my family who all live pretty far away, so that they could keep up to date with Arthur and his many outfit changes (usually due to a poo explosion!)

These days you can find me writing about EYFS Play activities, the highs and lows of parenthood, sharing our experiences of issues such as pregnancy, feeding, sleep deprivation ( I still haven’t had a full night sleep since Arthur was born!) – plus celebrating all of the amazing things that being a new mum has to offer too.

We live in a lovely little town in West Yorkshire called Ilkley – although I was born and raised in Nottinghamshire and my husband in Holland. ( I still can’t speak Dutch after 11 years together…must must must learn before he and Arthur start having secret conversations!)

What one essential item would you insist on putting in your hospital bag (for you)?

A dark coloured, light weight cotton dressing gown that you don’t mind getting ruined. I spent almost my whole labour in the bath on the induction suite and when it came to me being allowed to go to the birthing pool room I ended up standing in the corridor, wrapped in a bedsheet (which my husband took off the hospital bed), soaking wet with blood running down my legs…I was too hot to use The White Company fluffy gown i’d brought with me and i really didn’t want to ruin it!!

Eek! I wouldn’t want to get my posh new dressing gown dirty either. Primark is the best friend of the hospital bag!

Was there anything unexpected that happened during labour, that you think first-time mums should be prepared for?

It all progressed very quickly – I had been told to expect a first labour to take hours and hours, so we were left completely on our own for a good 3 hours whilst I went through all of my contractions in the bath on the induction suite – I was sure I was further on than they told me I was and so by the time they let me go to a private room I was at the pushing stage and almost had him in the corridor trying to walk there. Be prepared to listen to your own body and prepare your birth partner to stand up for you – if my husband hadn’t realised how serious I was and got so cross at the lack of help we would have had Arthur in the bath on our own for sure.

What would be your one essential product for a newborn that no new parent should live without?

A stretchy sling. Arthur had really bad colic and reflux and this was a godsend. I think most newborns have an intense need to be held and comforted a lot and a stretchy sling can just give you your hands/arms back for long enough to make a drink or have some toast. It also really helped me to bond with Arthur which I hadn’t realised until I used the sling that I was struggling to do. Obviously there are also the skin to skin benefits too such as regulating temperature and breathing.

I think I should try using a stretchy sling with Little M. We’ve tried a couple of structured carriers but she hates them!

What’s the best piece of advice you were given before your first child was born?

Someone told me that during labour I would ‘moo’ like a cow. I laughed and thought it was a joke, but genuinely, the animal like noises that came out of my mouth were something else…I didn’t even realise it was me at first, but I was so reassured in knowing it was normal.

What’s the worst piece of advice you were given?
That ALL babies ( even breastfed babies) should only feed every 4 hours…..what a load of rubbish! I felt like a complete failure in the first few weeks when my baby fed at least every hour (which is totally normal by the way!) This advice, if I had really listened to it, could have been so dangerous. Every baby is different and newborns don’t do anything to schedule. 

Absolutely! Adults don’t feed to a rigid sechedule, so why do we expect babies to?

What would be your top tip for a first time parent-to-be?

Trust your instincts. Sure, accumulate a Google search list to rival a dictionary, but ultimately, listen to yourself and listen to your baby. If you tune into each other and pay attention to that, you will be fine. Smile to bad advice and just do what YOU think is right.

Oh yes, I think I have perfected the ‘nod and smile’…

What’s the hardest thing about being a new parent?

The sleep deprivation. I can’t even describe how this will affect everything in your life – your mood, your appetite, your ability to function. Know that it can have huge consequences and be mindful of that when making decisions. Often, a few hours rest will make the world of difference.

What’s the best thing about being a new parent?

The joy – I can’t even describe it, but you will know what I mean. You will feel it when you watch them sleep, watch them play, watch them grow…the most boring of days become joyful just because they exist and you will smile at something every day just because of them.

Thank you, Sarah! You can find Sarah over on her blog, on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Timekeeping (or lack thereof)

I have to apologise to all of my friends. It would appear that I haven’t fully appreciated the catastrophic affect having a baby would have on my timekeeping. Although I wouldn’t really call it timekeeping. More a complete and devastating lack of ability to calculate the amount of time it will take to do anything.

Yesterday Little M and I went on our first mummy-daughter road trip. We went to Peterborough  to have lunch with the lovely Hannah of Budding Smiles and her baby Martha (both of whom are gorgeous lovely people, by the way!). Now, I’ve been to Peterborough before, once, when I was pregnant with Little M. It didn’t feel that far. And Google Maps reliably informed me that it would take 1 hour 30 minutes to get there.

Google Maps lied.

I’d barely got 30 minutes into the alleged journey before eating up the extra thirty minutes I’d smugly allowed to get there on time. First I had to pull over to check Little M’s straps on her car seat. Then she started crying so I had to stop to feed her, only for her to decide that milk was a completely unacceptable offering but walking around a petrol station shop is the activity of the moment.

I started to think it might be quicker to walk to Peterborough.

Road trip selfie! Taken on our I’m-sure-this-will-only-take-a-minute check of the car seat stop, while I was still full of optimism and perceived control of the time!

Once we eventually got back on the road, I managed to miss a pivotal turning, thus leading me on what I can only describe as a typical circuitous Google rescue route to get me back on track.

I won’t bore you further with the details, but we ended up being an hour and ten minutes late.

I mean honestly. Fortunately Hannah was lovely about it, but in future I’d best double the amount of time I think I’ll need to get anywhere!


Hotter Shoes – Only for your mum?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a comfy shoe. I used to buy allll the pretty stilettos in Faith before I eventually realised that I couldn’t actually walk in them, they’d only be worn once and then consigned to the bottom of the wardrobe for the next five years until I needed space and gave them to my mum for the church charity sale. But I’d always thought of Hotter Shoes as an ‘old person’ brand. Probably because my mother, who I love to bits but is definitely more comfort-over-style, kept telling me I should try their shoes.

Well I’ll tell you now, I am a Hotter Shoes convert.

On Tuesday evening I was lucky enough to be invited by Hotter Shoes to a press evening at their newly refurbished Norwich store. This was my first press event so I didn’t know what to expect. I loved it! We started off by learning a bit about the brand and their shoes. I’m a bit of a geek so I really enjoyed hearing all about the shoes and the technology in them. Hotter Shoes started off making slippers; now their mission is to make shoes that are as comfortable as slippers. I believe them! These Pixie boots actually felt even more comfortable than my slippers!

Pixie boots, hotter boots, ankle boots, boots, suede boots, ugg boots, comfy boots, tassle boots, slouch boots, slouchy ankle boots, boots like slippers,
The soles of the shoes made in the Hotter factory are filled with millions of air bubbles so they provide a lovely cushioned base to walk on. They’ve got hidden comfort concept features like wiggle room for toes and added flexibility. Practical as well as stylish!

Don’t get me wrong, Hotter still have plenty of styles my mum would wear that I wouldn’t consider, but I was surprised to find how many pairs I would love to wear myself. These Donna heels are gorgeous and would be perfect for a wedding, out for dinner or even in the office or (in my case) classroom. These plum ones are just to die for!

Donna shoe, hotter shoe, plum shoe, suede heels, comfortable heels, comfy heels, wedding shoe, wedding guest shoes, office shoes, teacher shoes

I think I would have tried on almost every shoe in the shop, given half the chance! Now I know it’s not quite the weather for it yet, but I really need some new boots. I love the colder weather and an opportunity to don some comfy socks and a decent pair of boots.

After trying on most of the boots on offer, I settled on these Belle boots in tan. They looked great with my staple skinny jeans. I reckon I could dress them up with a nice dress and tights too. Unfortunately I’m having to wait a few weeks for them to be ordered in, but it’s too hot for boots just now anyway! I’ll be super excited when they arrive next month, just in time for the cooler weather!

knee high boots, boots, riding boots, tan boots, tan knee high boots, boots with buckle, hotter boots, nubuck boots

I’ve got pretty skinny legs (see photo above for evidence!) so I sometimes have trouble finding boots that don’t gape around the calf. Fortunately these fitted really well! Fear not if you’ve been blessed with more shapely legs than mine, though. Hotter Shoes also do a wide leg fitting in these boots. They really do think of everything!

I’ve got to hand it to my mum, she was right. Hotter Shoes definitely are worth a look.

***Rather excitingly, Hotter Shoes are offering Pondering Parenthood readers £10 off their next online purchase, plus FREE delivery! Just pop the code PQBTPD in at the checkout.***

Terms and Conditions:

£10 off plus FREE delivery is for first orders only. You are entitled to £10 off the total order value of any full priced items in the Hotter range (excluding shoe care products) plus FREE delivery. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotional offer or on Sale or Factory Clearance items and gift vouchers. Expires 29/1/17

Disclosure: I was invited to the Hotter PR event and allowed to choose the Belle boots to review, free of charge. However, all opinions are my own.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Ask the Parents – Advice for new mummies and daddies from Tattooed Mummy

Welcome back to my blog series of advice for new and expectant parents. This week the words of experience come from Tattooed Mummy. 

Tell me a bit about you, your blog and your family.

I’ve been blogging for donkey’s years, over ten years I think. It started as a space for my brain to leak (and rant) though I do most of that on twitter now! I also liked to save little funny stories and pictures. I’ve always blogged semi anonymously as my husband doesn’t like the thought of the world knowing who we are – I tend to think the world doesn’t care!

I’m 50, I have a daughter of 16, my husband is 69 and we recently got a puppy. We have had dogs before, DD (darling daughter) grew up with two terriers. I work full time, blog for fun and my husband is a SAHD – he has been DD’s main carer since I went back to work when she was a year old. He does all the housework. No you can’t have him, I saw him first.

What one essential item would you insist on putting in your hospital bag (for you)?

When I had DD there were no mobile phones. Now that would be my one essential, for messaging and picture taking. I didn’t take anywhere near enough photos of DD when she was a newborn. 16 years ago I barely packed anything, a nightie, disposable pants and sanitary towels, and baby clothes and some nappies for DD that was it. I packed a camera but we were too busy to take pictures!

Was there anything unexpected that happened during labour, that you think first-time mums should be prepared for?

My labour and subsequent water birth went totally to plan, I’m very lucky. I was surprised by how much I bled after the birth though, and so I’d advise against a pretty new white cotton nightie (which was what I was wearing) unless you fancy looking like someone in a horror film after you’ve napped. I had visions of the perfect mum, sitting in a white sheeted bed, in a pristine nightie, holding court with my perfect baby – it’s messier than that!

What would be your one essential product for a newborn that no new parent should live without?

I honestly didn’t feel any need for gadgets, I hate the idea of baby monitors, sterilisers (I breast fed and never needed to sterilise anything as DD was 6 months before moving on to a cup), electric rocking cradles, electric breast pumps and the like. The thing I’d opt for is just lots and lots of plain and simple baby clothes. Nothing frilly or with lots of fuss, just simple things that can be changed quickly and bunged in the washing machine. And muslin squares…you can’t have too many.

What’s the best piece of advice you were given before your first child was born?

I don’t remember getting much advice except ‘enjoy it’. And that’s the advice I’d give, even the tough bits, embrace them, enjoy your baby, they grow up so fast!

What’s the worst piece of advice you were given?

I’m sure at least one person told me not to take my baby outside until she was ‘older’. I took her out at 5 days – is keeping a baby inside a thing? I thought that was puppies!

What would be your top tip for a first time parent-to-be?

Relax, babies are way tougher than they look. I really struggled with breastfeeding to start with and poor tiny DD went 24hrs with no food on day 5!! After some help at the hospital we got back on track. Relax, but don’t be scared to seek help from people who know, my midwives were great.

Oh on a scary note, but useful – my midwife said ‘if you ever feel the crying gets too much, nothing is working to calm the baby and you are at the end of your tether, pop the baby in her cot and walk out into the garden for 15 minutes, she won’t die and you will get a breather, have a cup of tea, relax.’ I never needed to do this but knowing I’d been given permission helped when things got a bit stressful.

What’s the hardest thing about being a new parent?

The lack of sleep. It’s like torture. ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps’ is a joke because they sleep when you are busy cooking dinner or having a shower or doing the shopping!! By week 6 I was sobbing and begging DD to sleep each night…but it gets better..no really..it does…a bit. 

What’s the best thing about being a new parent?

Being a new parent. That’s it – it’s amazing, making a whole new person. Incredible, look at those fingers, so tiny, those eyes, so blue. Just gaze at them. DD is 16 now and I still sometimes just look at her and am amazed I made someone so gorgeous.

You can find Tattooed Mummy on her blog, Twitter and Facebook